Drink Smart. My Top Ten Hangover Hacks

As a former award-winning publican, I know a thing or two about hangovers, how to create them and better still, how to fix them. Some folk wrongly assume that because I retrained as a clinical nutritionist and Pilates teacher that liquor wouldn’t pass my lips.  In fact, some are truly mortified when I reveal my past life in the Ladies Lounge. Yet there are those loyal followers who know that the life of a licensee is well marinated in authenticity, compassion and bloody hard work.

Alcoholism is rife in Australia and socially accepted as part of our culture, which makes it hard to determine what is your measure. For me, my well documented 80/20 rule always gets me by. As I get older, and allegedly wiser, I have stopped denying myself the fermented stuff, preferring to honour all of my trades holistically in the attempt to find a balance. So here’s what I know about the overflow.


Over the hangover?

One of the best ways to minimize the symptoms of a hangover – headaches, nausea, diarrhea, fatigue, dehydration, and body aches – is to practice some prevention before and during your festivities. Hangovers are caused by dehydration and congeners created during fermentation. Congeners are natural by-products of alcohol fermentation, and the higher the congener content, the greater the hangover. Gin and vodka have the fewest congeners, while bourbon and red wine claim the most. Allergies to wheat, barely, yeast, and corn may intensify your hangover. Note that coffee does not help as will only dehydrate you further.

The good Dr. Mercola reckons that ‘when alcohol reaches your liver, an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase breaks it down into acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde is far more toxic than alcohol (by up to 30-fold!2). So your body again attempts to break it down with the enzyme acetaldehyde dehydrogenase and glutathione, a powerful antioxidant that is crucial for liver detoxification (glutathione contains high levels of cysteine, which is why taking this in supplement form may help prevent hangover). Together, this powerful detox duo can break down the acetaldehyde into harmless acetate (which is similar to vinegar).’

Preventative measures include stocking up on carbohydrates as they delay alcohol absorption. The curative approach is that protein for breakfast the next day – or dinner that night if you love a good long lunch like me – will decrease alcohol absorption. For example, when I was doing an intense amount of interval training and following a strict Paleo diet, my PT mate advised me not to eat while having a drink on a Friday night. His rationale is that your body will metabolise the alcohol immediately and not store it. It seems to work, however it does not make for a very social dinner date! Cheers!


Whatever your tipple, here are a ten of my die hard cures.

My top 10 Hangover remedies

Swim in the ocean. This is a must if you have one handy on your doorstep, like we do here in Byron Bay. Ocean cleansing will shock the bejesus out of anything you have consumed the night before. Helps to clear the cobwebs by igniting your cells with negative ions. Just like a slap in the face from nature! An epic wipeout while surfing will also do the trick.

Beet top, lemon and ginger tea The rich, red colour of this tea helps to tonify the blood and cleanse the liver. Because beets have strong detoxifying properties, as they are high in chlorine, this little tonic will assist in the cleansing of the liver, kidneys and bloodstream. It is also rich in potassium which may help to balance the metabolism. Recipe

Lick an Umeboshi plum – to balance out-there feelings from toxins. A Macrobiotic remedy that suggests having salty or contractive taste to balance the sugar from alcohol and other toxins. It really works but tastes awful! Get recipe

A protein rich breakfast – poached eggs and spinach or muesli with nuts, seeds and yoghurt. The liver produces elevated levels of C-reactive protein after injury or trauma. This substance is thought to be involved in inflammation and alcohol hangovers, so repair with healthy protein replacement.

A Milk Thistle supplement will help to re-energise hepatocytes (liver cells) is an anti inflammatory, antioxidant, and reduces toxic fatty degeneration of the liver.

Wheatgrass juice is the bomb to alkalise the blood and powerful antioxidant, superoxide dismutase. Magnesium. See my article on wheatgrass here

Vitamin B – especially B1,2,3 –  will help circulation and blood cleansing. Think Black Betty, vegemite, miso soup, molasses and brown rice as examples.

The science of detoxification


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Beetroot, carrot and celery juice This ol’ chestnut contains carotenoids and flavonoids which heal and cleanse. Celery juice is great for beer excess conditions such as gout as it breaks down the purines that cause pain, and helps to reduces inflammation.

Drink plenty of filtered water. Aim for 2 litres a day to promote kidney function and liver clearance.

Exercise and/or have sex. Both clear the head and increase the flow of oxygen to the brain. The endorphin rush will uplift you and eliminate the blues. Get to hot yoga or climb a mountain to sweat out the toxins, you’ll thank me for it after!


Tips for Beating Hangovers

1. Fuel Up Before You Party
Consume a substantial meal before heading out to a party or bar. Bread-based products and protein-rich foods like milk and cheese can slow down alcohol absorption by coating your stomach and small intestine. Snacking on finger foods throughout the night also helps in pacing the intoxication process.

2. Drink Responsibly
Choose the right reasons for drinking. Social occasions and celebrations are valid, while using alcohol to reduce stress, release anger, or prove a point can lead to quicker intoxication and increased unpleasant side effects.

3. Know Your Limits
Understand your tolerance for alcohol, the point where noticeable physical and psychological changes occur. Set a maximum drink limit before going out, avoiding crossing this line to prevent a hangover the next morning.

4. Pacing is Key
Pace yourself by adhering to the recommendation of one drink per hour. This allows your body to process alcohol without overwhelming your system.

5. Consistency in Alcohol Type
Stick to one type of alcohol throughout the night. Avoid alternating between different drinks, as this can lead to headaches and stomach issues. Keeping it consistent allows your body to better handle the foreign substance.

6. Alternate with Hydration
Begin with food, followed by a beer, then hydrate with water or juice before having another drink. Avoid carbonated drinks, as they can accelerate intoxication and intensify hangovers.

7. Sip, Don’t Chug
Consume each alcoholic beverage slowly, as your liver can process only about one ounce of alcohol per hour. Avoid rapid consumption through shots or drinking games, which can result in a more severe hangover.

8. Hydrate with Water
Combat the dehydrating effects of alcohol by drinking plenty of water during and after alcohol consumption. This helps ward off dehydration, headaches, and muscle aches.

If all of the above fails….

Grab a Bacon sandwich with HP sauce. Guaranteed to fix coughs, colds and itchy holes!

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